Luxury boutique hotels have taken the hospitality industry by storm. With stunning architecture, aesthetic furnishings and design, and impeccable service, boutique hotels are today’s answer to the cookie-cutter mega-hotels of the past. Discerning guests are seeking out cosy, smaller establishments with fewer rooms, while still maintaining a high standard of service, combined with a sense of individuality. Freedom from the rules of big chains opens up a world of branding and design possibilities for the boutique hotelier, which can enhance business and encourage repeat clientele.
Building a successful boutique hotel brand starts with identifying your niche. This is often completely dependent on the property’s location and its’ destination features. Ravi Ramu left the corporate sector in India after 3 decades and started a remote boutique hotel called Primrose Villas. After experiencing extensive travel internationally in mostly branded chains, Ravi felt inspired to create a quiet luxury resort property that was unique, without rules and truly embraces the spirit of holiday. “Luxury comes from the mindset,” he says as he promotes flexibility while encouraging guests to eat at any time of day. “If I am governed by the rules of the hotel, it’s not a holiday,” he says. This flexibility is certainly a memorable luxury for those seeking refuge from the bustle of daily life.
Boutique hotels are often labelled as stylish or trendy, but to have lasting appeal there needs to be more to it. Jane Mackie is the vice president of marketing at Cape Resorts, a company focused on smaller properties built on the principles of luxury, comfort and service. She says, “We’ve learned that the largest driving force in return customers or repeat business is an overemphasis on service. It’s easy to get people to come once, but the hospitality industry is all about getting people to come back again and again.” Creating an unforgettable experience through carefully crafted service design is part and parcel of a strong branding concept.
Without existing brand recognition, boutique hotels are faced with the challenge of standing out in a market saturated with competition. They generally lack the financial ability to engage in monumental branding campaigns as their mega-hotel counterparts do. Luckily, in the age of the the internet, this approach is no longer necessary. Through effective website design and social media engagement, it’s possible to develop a brand identity and story that builds consumer familiarity and loyalty. Whether it’s the unique story behind the property’s location, or the hotel’s chef or even how the flower arrangements are made, social media has leveled the marketing playing field for the entire hospitality industry. How you chose to tell that story is what will set you apart.